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Un De Sceaux and Altior to battle again in Clarence House


Willie Mullins. Photo: Sportsfile

Willie Mullins. Photo: Sportsfile

Willie Mullins. Photo: Sportsfile

The sight of Altior and Un De Sceaux jumping the last upsides in the Tingle Creek is one of the moments of the season thus far and the pair look set to renew rivalries in Saturday's Clarence House Chase at Ascot.

Nicky Henderson's Altior had four lengths to spare over Willie Mullins' Un De Sceaux that day and victory will stretch the reigning champion chaser's unbeaten streak to 17 - one short of Big Buck's record of 18.

Altior (1/4) is priced accordingly given his exemplary record over fences with 11 wins but Un De Sceaux (9/2) will make him earn it again as Mullins' 11-year-old eyes his fourth straight success in the Grade One.

The Closutton maestro will monitor the ground for his veteran chaser - it was good, good to soft in places yesterday morning - before he takes his place among a select field of four.

Altior has scared away the opposition with Colin Tizzard's long-absent Fox Norton (10/1) and Paul Nicholls' Diego Du Charmil - a remote second in the Grade Two Desert Orchid Chase behind Altior last month - the only other potential challengers.

Meanwhile, Mullins received a setback with the news that Quick Grabim will miss the Cheltenham Festival after suffering a setback.

A general 14/1 shot for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle having taken the Grade One Royal Bond Novice Hurdle, Quick Grabim faces a lay-off after picking up a stress fracture, although he may return in time for the Punchestown Festival.

"He suffered a stress fracture after his last run, but hopefully he will make it back in time for Punchestown. He'll get all the time he needs," Mullins said.

Elsewhere, Fozzy Stack ensured his first runner over jumps was a successful one when Carlo Biraghi (12/1) scored in good style on his hurdling debut at Punchestown yesterday in the hands of Danny Mullins.

The son of Galileo - last seen when 10th in the Irish Derby - entered the Triumph Hurdle market at 16/1 but the Tipperary trainer is unsure of his next destination as of yet.

"We won't go to the Dublin Racing Festival because it's a bit too close, and we'll get another run into him before Cheltenham or Aintree or one of the festivals. We will mix it over the summer with the Flat, and he could go for something like a Chester Cup or the Ebor," Stack said.

Noel Meade was also on the mark with a 38/1 double through Free Ranger (5/1 favourite) and The Caddy Rose (11/2) while today's seven-race Fairyhouse jumps card is headed by the Rated Hurdle (2.0).

It could throw up a duel between Paul Flynn's Try Again (Paul Townend) and Gordon Elliott's Eclair De Beaufeu (Jack Kennedy) in a competitive looking affair.

Irish Independent